Stretch Marks

Preventing Stretch Marks During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is one of the most magical times in a woman’s life, though sometimes it may not feel it.

During pregnancy a woman’s body undergoes an incredible amount of changes, and most of them are unwelcome.  Nausea, backache, varicose veins, aching legs and feet, and the dreaded stretch marks which affect 75-90 % of all pregnant women.  Also known by the medical term striae gravidarum they are caused by the sudden expansion of skin, combined with the effect of hormones which prevent the formation of collage and elastin which keep the skin taut (Burton JL, Lovell CR.  Disorders of connective tissue.  Champion RH, Wilkinson DS, Ebling, FJG (editors.  Textbook of Dermatology. 6th edition, Oxford: Blackwell Science Inc, 1998:2008-2009).

Initially they appear in the later stages of pregnancy as angry red lines that may fade with time and change into the same colour as skin.  But for most people they will not go away.  However, biology can be beaten and there are strategies, techniques, and treatments to preventing stretch marks during pregnancy and to keep them from being a major problem and many are focused on ensuring that skin is healthy.

A Balanced Diet–A healthy and balanced diet of fresh fruit and vegetables packed with minerals and vitamins, A, C, and E promotes the growth of elastin and collagen in the body.

Massage- Regular daily massage of the areas that are likely to be affected can help to prevent stretch marks by increasing blood circulation. It also keeps the skin looking young and feeling fresh. 

Water-Drinking lots of water will keep your skin hydrated and soft.

Moisturizer-Dry skin is more prone to breaks and tears that can lead to stretch mark scarring so daily massage with moisturizing creams may prevent the onset of stretch marks.  

Exercise – This can help to keep muscles and skin firm. Walking is of benefit to your entire body, leg lifts will work on your hip, thigh, and buttocks and push-ups can prevent stretch marks in the upper arms and breasts.

Creams - Stretch mark prevention creams such as Revitol are designed and formulated to increase the skin’s elasticity.  Creams and lotions containing vitamin E and alpha hydroxyl acids are thought to be most effective, though they do not work for everyone.  However, most stretch marks will fade over time to silvery faint lines. 

Wheat Germ Oil – If stretch marks do appear during pregnancy wheat germ oil has been shown to be an effective treatment if applied early on.  In one study 45% of pregnant women showed complete recovery, and there was a marked recovery in 36% (Cicek D, et al. Efficient treatment of early stria with Triticum Vulgare. Arastirma 2007; 21 (3):99-102).

Weight Gain - Stretch marks can also be prevented by adhering to the recommended weight gain guidelines during pregnancy.  Doctors advise that most women should gain between 25 and 34 pounds, any more could put a woman at risk of developing stretch marks.  They are advised not to gain too much weight too quickly.

Stretch marks and breasts

As a woman’s body prepares for the arrival of a new baby breasts become larger to provide milk. Some women will develop fine line stretch marks on their breasts which can be minimized by applying moisturizer. A supportive maternity bra will give heavier breasts the extra support they need.

It is important to highlight that there isn’t a product on the market that can offer a guarantee that it will be able to completely prevent stretch marks during pregnancy.  Significant risk factors include low maternal age (particularly teenage mums) a body mass index over 26, genetics and family history, and a maternal weight gain of more than 33 pounds (Atwal, GSS et al.  Striae gravidarum in primiparae.  British Journal of Dermatology; 155 (5):965-969).

Disclaimer:  The information provided within this site is not meant to be a substitute for a medical doctor's opinion.  This site is for informational purposes ONLY.  Please check with your medical practitioner before any type of treatment or prevention method is started.

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